Baker sets sights on comeback in Caraway standings

Area driver aims to move up in points race

SOPHIA — Johnny Baker needs a fast finish in a true sense at Caraway Speedway.

With the season winding down the Asheboro driver is contending for his third track championship in Mini Stocks. But it’s going to be a challenge.

“We’re slowly getting there,” Baker said. “But it’s going to take some good luck.”

Baker holds second place in the division, but he has been gaining ground. He has won four of the last five races in a division with diminishing entries.

Brandon Collins leads with 1,141 points, while Baker has 1,073 with no other contenders because the next-best total belongs to Tyler Bush with 578.

Baker, 29, said his 2016 and 2018 track titles are his career highlights. He also has won races at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem and Ace Speedway in Altamahaw.

Caraway Speedway holds its next racing card Saturday night.

Baker’s car blew an engine in the spring and that caused him to miss a week. Without those potential points, he has been digging out of a hole even though Collins hasn’t won a 2021 race in the division.

“We’ve got a really fast race car,” Baker said.

Baker, who works full-time as a supermarket refrigerator technician, said he’s determined to keep pursuing the track championship. He credits his father, Johnny Baker III, for helping keep that goal attainable as his crew chief.’

“Mostly it’s just a lot of hard work,” the younger Baker said. “It takes a lot of time, a lot of commitment.”

Another Asheboro driver also holds second place in his division. Anthony Bennett is bidding to win the Challenger class.

Bennett, with 973 points, trails Mike Chambers, who has 1,044.

Induction set for weekend

There will be five inductees into Caraway Speedway’s Wall of Fame as part of Saturday night’s racing card. The track celebrates its 56th anniversary.

The inductees are:

  • Billy Biscoe, who was part of Richard Petty’s championship teams and now crew chief for son, A.J. Biscoe (who’s in Caraway’s UCar class).
  • Junior Burgess, who raced from 1964-77 at the track as part of a 30-year driving career. His first victory at the track came in a 1936 Chevrolet Modified sponsored by Coble’s Pressure Washing.
  • Wayne McBride, a winner of close to 100 races at the speedway and other area tracks from 1962-72. Burgess was among his main rivals on the track.
  • Lowe Smith, a fixture in Hobby and Limited Sportsman races and the 1978 track champion in Limited Sportsman (and a racer who was considered independent without significant sponsorship). He drove a black-and-white No. 1 car.
  • Philip Smith, a two-time Modified division track champion along the way while registering 46 total wins at the speedway. His time at the track extended to the dirt-track days driving in the Limited Sportsman class for Decker Brothers and once the track was paved in 1973, he moved to the Sportsman class.

Brown in field

Jonathan Brown secured a starting spot in the 19th annual John Blewett Memorial North-South Shootout on Nov. 6-7 at Caraway based on his winning performance Saturday night at Bowman Gray Stadium. Brown won the 150-lap race in the Winston-Salem venue’s final race of the season.

 

By Bob Sutton

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